No Diabetes without Leaky Gut
Recent research shows that you can have all the genetic predispositions to developing diabetes, but you won’t actually become diabetic unless you have a leaky gut as well.
According to Wikipedia, leaky gut is a name used to describe intestinal or bowel hyperpermeability.
For those of us without medical degrees, leaky gut means pretty much what you think it means – something is wrong with your digestive system that lets stuff circulate in your body that should have stayed in your intestines until eliminated in the normal way.
It causes problems, and lots of them: bowel diseases, arthritis, skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis, food allergies, IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and more.
Dr. Leo Galland of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine adds that it “stimulates classic hypersensitivity responses to foods and to components of the normal gut flora; bacterial endotoxins, cell wall polymers and dietary gluten may cause “non-specific” activation of inflammatory pathways mediated by complement and cytokines.”
Dr. Andrew Weil points out that it’s “not generally recognized by conventional physicians.”
It certainly should be.
Recently The Healthy Skeptic published a fascinating article. The leadoff stated:
“Genetics play a significant role in type 2 diabetes and obesity but, recent evidence shows that genetics alone don’t cause diabetes without environmental triggers and a leaky gut.” [The emphasis is mine.]
Wow! If this is true, it means there is one part of the equation that you have a fair amount of control over. You can’t control your genes, and you can’t control most environmental triggers. Control a leaky gut? Yes, you can!
Once you fix your gut, you’ll be amazed at how much more energy you have and how much better you feel. The best part is, it’s not complicated to do.
Healing leaky gut is actually one of the goals of the UltraSimple Diet, which you’ve already read about if you’ve been following this site for any length of time. (If you missed any of the articles, you can find them all here.)
Tremendous News for People with Diabetes
The author bases his conclusion on a study done by researcher Alessio Fasano. In an article in Scientific American, Fasano argued that all autoimmune diseases – including diabesity — involve these three factors.
To briefly summarize:
- You inherit your genes and can’t do anything about them.
- Your genes respond to your environment, including things like what your mother ate when she was pregnant with you, your diet, prescription drugs (especially antibiotics), and environmental contaminants like herbicides, pesticides, PCBs and BPA.
- You can control some of the environmental issues, especially your diet, the drugs you take, and whether you handle pesticides or herbicides.
- You can’t control what your Mom ate while pregnant or the environmental toxins you’re exposed to without your knowledge.
- Even if you have a “diabetes gene,” it won’t be activated unless at least one of these environmental factors is present.
- It also won’t be activated unless you also have a leaky gut.
What is Leaky Gut?
Your intestines “leak” when the intestinal wall allows partially digested food and other matter to escape into the bloodstream. In some spots, your intestinal wall is only a single cell thick, so it’s not that hard to damage.
When stuff escapes the intestines in this way, it’s treated like an invader. White blood cells rush to the rescue, resulting in inflammation.
How well our bodies handle toxins like BPA depends on the intestinal barrier. If it’s intact, we can eliminate them without a lot of problem. When it’s busted, watch out. Your brain, liver, kidneys, pancreas and skeletal system are all affected by the immune response when toxins leak out of the gut.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Digestion involves a complex system with a lot of responsibilities. Obviously, it has to take food, break it into its component parts and deliver the nutrients to your bloodstream.
It also has to protect your immune system by keeping waste products and toxins out of your bloodstream.
Your gut also has its own nervous system, and it communicates constantly with your brain. If something interferes with the two-way communication between brain and gut, your health suffers.
We all carry around about three pounds of digestion helpers in the form of bacteria. If you don’t have enough, if the balance of bacterial types is messed up, or if you’ve got the wrong kinds of bacteria in there, your health suffers as well.
If you’ve been eating a typical American high-sugar, high fat, low-fiber diet, you can be pretty sure your gut is unhealthy.
Other substances that damage your gut include:
- Antibiotics and other prescription medications
- Toxic metals (mercury, lead), yeast and mold
- Inadequate digestive enzymes
What Can You Do to Avoid or Fix a Leaky Gut?
Eliminate Food Allergens, Especially Gluten
Humans produce the protein zonulin which increases intestinal permeability. Translation: it makes your gut leak more. And guess what? Gluten increases zonulin production in people with the genetic predisposition.
So the first thing you should do to heal your leaky gut is eliminate gluten from your diet.
Other common food allergens include dairy, eggs, yeast, corn and soy. Eliminate them for two to three weeks, then gradually add them back in to see whether you tolerate them. When I did this, I was astonished to find out I had a problem with dairy.
Take a Probiotic
The next step is to improve the quantity and quality of bacteria that live in your digestive system. Diabetics’ gut bacteria is measurably different from nondiabetics’. If you have diabetes, you probably produce more of a couple types of bacteria that produce LPS (lipopolysaccharides) and LPS stimulates the immune system (translation: more inflammation).
To improve the quality of gut bacteria, take a high-quality probiotic.
You can find plenty of probiotics at the pharmacy, supermarket or health food store. If it doesn’t come out of a refrigerator, don’t waste your money on it. Effective probiotics contain live organisms, and must be refrigerated to maintain potency.
A healthy gut hosts anywhere from 100 billion to 1,000 billion friendly bacteria per mL (milliliter), but a typical American has only about 5 per mL. You read that right: 1,000 billion compared to 5. Your intestinal tract should host about 100 trillion of the little critters overall, from about 400 species. They help you digest your food, absorb its nutrients and produce vitamins B and K and some enzymes.
A good probiotic should contain the following strains of bacteria:
· L. Acidopholus
· L Salivarius
· L. Rhamnosus
· L. Plantarum
· Streptococcus thermophilus
· L. bulgaricus
· B. longum
· L. casei
· fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which helps the good guys to grow
Treat Infections or Overgrowth of Bad Bugs
Yeasts, parasites and bacteria in the small bowel must be treated before your gut will work properly.
Support Intestinal Healing
Help the lining to heal by taking zinc and glutamine. Extra Omega-3 will cool the inflammation in your gut, and will help speed the healing process.
Eat Whole Unprocessed Foods
Avoid eating anything that comes in a jar or a can, and eat foods as close to their natural state – and as fresh – as you can find. Get plenty of fiber from beans, seeds, nuts and vegetables. Ditch the sugar.
Once your gut no longer leaks, you should find it much easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and chronic, “untreatable” conditions like diabetes will go away.
Although it takes some time and persistence, fixing your leaky gut isn’t difficult to do. If you want a detailed road map, Dr. Hyman takes you through it, step by step, in his book [ad#UltraSimple Diet Book].
Repairing your gut might just be the single most important step you can take for your overall health.
Have you healed your leaky gut? How did you do it? Click the Comment button above this post to share your experience.